Why is Maïmouna Tangara from Mali listening to the radio? | © Helvetas / fairepicture / Fatoumata Tioye Coulibaly
Zurich - 10. Juni 2021

Helvetas Supported Over 5 Million People in Pandemic Year

© Helvetas / fairepicture / Fatoumata Tioye Coulibaly

The COVID-19 crisis is pushing millions of people back into poverty—making the commitment to a better future even more urgent. The Swiss development organization Helvetas saw record donations and supported over 5 million people in 2020. The focus was on alleviating pandemic-related hardships, which is highlighted in the newly released 2020 Annual Report.

In the pandemic year 2020, Helvetas utilized $124.4 million—more than ever before—for development projects and humanitarian aid worldwide. This enabled the development cooperation and humanitarian aid organization to reach over 5 million people in 30 countries. Helvetas also provided professional and technical advice to other organizations totaling $5.9 million. The NGO spent just under $5.6 million on projects in Switzerland in the field of education and information.

Helvetas achieved a new record with donations of $40.8 million in 2020. Donations grew by 16 percent compared to the previous year. Helvetas implemented projects for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and other governmental and international clients in the amount of $100.9 million, 4 percent more than in the previous year. Administrative expenses remained low at 3.5 percent. Fundraising expenses amounted to 6.2 percent.

Basic needs, education and participation

Last year, Helvetas contributed to securing basic needs, creating prospects through education projects and strengthening the co-determination of women and minorities in 30 countries:

  • More than 4 million people gained better access to clean water and sanitation and learned about the hygiene measures needed to protect against the coronavirus, which is essential for survival. As climate change continues, hundreds of thousands have learned environmentally friendly farming methods despite more difficult conditions.
  • Together with partner organizations, Helvetas has been able to provide around 800,0000 children and young adults with better primary education and access to vocational training, which increases their chances in the labor market and creates prospects locally. 
  • In 2020, Helvetas worked with partners to empower over 400,000 women and men to participate in the political process. Helvetas supports refugees and migrants and works with governments to develop frameworks for social cohesion—all in pursuit of greater justice.

Rapid humanitarian aid delivery

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the lives of the world's population. Helvetas’ response relied on one of its key strengths; with local roots in 30 countries, decentralized organization and a wealth of experience spanning 65 years, the NGO was able to act immediately. Through 149 projects worth almost $6.7 million, Helvetas provided emergency humanitarian aid and supported local actors in alleviating the economic consequences of the pandemic. 2.5 million people also received protective materials, soap, water and educational information on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Donations from private individuals, foundations, cantons, municipalities and companies, as well as contributions from Swiss Solidarity, UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM and SDC, made the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid possible.

New strategy 2021-24

Helvetas has long subscribed to the principle that we should only do things that local and national stakeholders cannot achieve on their own, whether that is because their hands are tied, they cannot make themselves heard, or they lack the requisite technical expertise. The Swiss NGO works closely with the affected population as well as with local partner organizations. Helvetas is applying its knowledge in the new 2021-24 strategy.

  1. We are intensifying our work in the areas of water, food and climate.
  2. Once basic needs are met, we want to create future opportunities for young people, especially women, and prioritize projects offering high-quality, practice-oriented vocational training so that youth will have decent job prospects.
  3. We are creating the right conditions for disadvantaged people to have a say in their future. For example, we empower women to participate in political processes.

Due to growing urbanization, Helvetas will also be increasingly active in urban environments. With the new 2021-24 strategy, Helvetas is responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the serious consequences of climate change and the increasing threat to basic needs, as well as the increased risk of violent conflicts in its partner countries.

More Information

Annual Report

Who We Are

2021-2024 Strategy

Further information:

Coordinator Media Relations
Katrin Hafner